I was sitting in my high school’s computer lab, stealing glances at the bleak clock hanging on the wall and waiting for the eighth period bell to ring. 20 minutes left of school, 10 emails to read, and a Facebook newsfeed cluttering with seemingly meaningless statuses.

Or so I thought.

They found Gilad Shalit. He would be returned. He was coming home.

My emotions overcame me. My vision blurred as my eyes became wet. I searched around me, eagerly desperate for a Jewish American classmate to share with me my emotion.

And then tonight happened. I was strolling around the mall, enjoying a tasty tuna sandwich and chai tea latte from Aroma—but more importantly appreciating my Israeli company. My friend from school sent me a Facebook message: “I’m sure you heard the news …”My heart skipped a few beats. What was he talking about? My mind was racing. I instantly went to my Facebook newsfeed, knowing the solution rested there.

We went home and turned on Channel 10 news. My eyes were glued; my ears sensed the news anchor’s emotion. My 12 ½ year old friend paused the TV every 2 minutes to translate for me what was happening. The images said enough. The rapid Hebrew. The flashing lights. The five boys, family and friends of the loved ones, praying for the souls.

My Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds filled with the mourning, heartfelt messages. But it wasn’t the attempt for my Jewish friends and family around the world attempting to share their feelings on social media.

It was understanding the struggle facing millions of Israeli parents tonight. How will they tell their children in the morning? Will the 10 year old cry? Will the 8 year old shout? Will the parent’s lips quiver, holding back the tears as the eyes water? Tell me. Where else around this very big world of ours do parents have to face this? Tell me. Why are the Hamas terrorists abducting our children—not investing in their leadership for future peace.

Was there a reason the terrorists weren’t parading in the street, demanding prisoner trades following the abduction? Why hadn’t they come to the terrorist negotiating table yet? Why had they taken children—not soldiers proudly clad in their uniform? What does this say? What does this all mean?

Tomorrow I will absorb. Take it all in, one feeling and one moment at a time. I will see my Israeli campers arrive for their first day of camp, excited for a fun welcoming day yet wary of the mourning. I will feel the somber-yet-playful mood as I pass through the park on my daily run. I will touch the hands of my friends and family here, connecting us together. אחדות —togetherness—will become of us tomorrow as we mourn and understand and grasp.

עם ישראל חי